The Metro Atlanta Red Cross mobilized to help during the 2008 tornado that struck Downtown and Cabbagetown.

By Clare S. Richie

The year was 1914, when World War 1 broke out in Europe, Henry Ford introduced the Model T assembly line, and the Metro Atlanta Chapter of the American Red Cross received its charter.

For a century, the Metro Atlanta Chapter has helped the city, state, nation and the world face disasters like the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917, Hurricane Katrina and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Whether responding to one house fire or a tornado that leveled hundreds, the Metro Atlanta Chapter mobilizes volunteers who provide shelter, food, key necessities, kindness and hope. They ask for our blood to save lives – three lives for each pint, to be exact. And they train citizens to be lifesavers, too.

Headquartered at 1955 Monroe Drive near the I-85 connector, the Metro Atlanta Chapter seeks to “prevent, prepare for, and cope with emergencies,” through disaster response/preparedness, lifesaving training, communications for military members and their families, international humanitarian services, and support for the Southern Blood Services Division headquartered in Douglasville.

The Metro Atlanta Red Cross was also on hand to help the victims at the Winecoff Hotel fire in 1946,

“Our long rich history has evolved with the community, but our mission has stayed the same,” said Communications Officer Sherry Nicholson.

What started with 12 volunteer organizers has since grown to 1,700 registered volunteers that outnumber paid staff 40 to 1. Together volunteers, donors, partners and staff serve a 13-county area of 5 million Georgians. The Metro Atlanta chapter also oversees 11 other chapters across the state.

To commemorate its 100th anniversary, the Metro Atlanta Chapter invites residents to participate in its 100-Day Centennial Celebration from March 23 to June 30. Some of the upcoming events the public can get involved in include:

  • Join Team Red Cross as a runner-fundraiser at the March 23rd Publix Georgia Marathon, Half-Marathon and 5K in Centennial Olympic Park.
  • Experience the chapter’s history through personal stories, recorded in partnership with StoryCorps Atlanta and edited by Morningside multi-media producer Lauren Waits. Listen online and hear from people like 91-year-old Mr. Greason, a disaster relief volunteer for two decades, explain that when disaster strikes, “I’ve got to go”.
  • Give blood at one of the 100 Drives in 100 Days, culminating with the June 28 All American Red Cross Blood Drive with the Atlanta Braves at The 755 Club. Officials said Metro Atlanta does not collect enough blood to serve the needs of our community and this drive could help change that.

For more about the Red Cross and upcoming events, visit atlantaredcross.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.